Code of the District of Columbia

Part C. The Judiciary.


§ 1–204.31. Judicial powers.

(a) The judicial power of the District is vested in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals and the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. The Superior Court has jurisdiction of any civil action or other matter (at law or in equity) brought in the District and of any criminal case under any law applicable exclusively to the District. The Superior Court has no jurisdiction over any civil or criminal matter over which a United States court has exclusive jurisdiction pursuant to an Act of Congress. The Court of Appeals has jurisdiction of appeals from the Superior Court and, to the extent provided by law, to review orders and decisions of the Mayor, the Council, or any agency of the District. The District of Columbia courts shall also have jurisdiction over any other matters granted to the District of Columbia courts by other provisions of law.

(b) The chief judge of a District of Columbia court shall be designated by the District of Columbia Judicial Nominating [Nomination] Commission established by § 1-204.34 from among the judges of the court in regular active service, and shall serve as chief judge for a term of four years or until a successor is designated, except that the term as chief judge shall not extend beyond the chief judge’s term as a judge of a District of Columbia court. An individual shall be eligible for redesignation as chief judge.

(c) A judge of a District of Columbia court appointed on or after the date of enactment of the District of Columbia Court Reorganization Act of 1970 [July 29, 1970] shall be appointed for a term of fifteen years subject to mandatory retirement at age seventy-four or removal, suspension, or involuntary retirement pursuant to § 1-204.32 and upon completion of such term, such judge shall continue to serve until reappointed or a successor is appointed and qualifies. A judge may be reappointed as provided in subsection (c) of § 1-204.33.

(d)(1) There is established a District of Columbia Commission on Judicial Disabilities and Tenure (hereinafter referred to as the “Tenure Commission”). The Tenure Commission shall consist of seven members selected in accordance with the provisions of subsection (e). Such members shall serve for terms of six years, except that the member selected in accordance with subsection (e)(3)(A) shall serve for five years; of the members first selected in accordance with subsection (e)(3)(B), one member shall serve for three years and one member shall serve for six years; of the members first selected in accordance with subsection (e)(3)(C), one member shall serve for a term of three years and one member shall serve for five years; the member first selected in accordance with subsection (e)(3)(D) shall serve for six years; and the member first appointed in accordance with subsection (e)(3)(E) shall serve for six years. In making the respective first appointments according to subsections (e)(3)(B) and (e)(3)(C), the Mayor and the Board of Governors of the unified District of Columbia Bar shall designate, at the time of such appointments, which member shall serve for the shorter term and which member shall serve for the longer term.

(2) The Tenure Commission shall act only at meetings called by the Chairman or a majority of the Tenure Commission held after notice has been given of such meeting to all Tenure Commission members.

(3) The Tenure Commission shall choose annually, from among its members, a Chairman and such other officers as it may deem necessary. The Tenure Commission may adopt such rules of procedures not inconsistent with this chapter as may be necessary to govern the business of the Tenure Commission.

(4) The District government shall furnish to the Tenure Commission, upon the request of the Tenure Commission, such records, information, services, and such other assistance and facilities as may be necessary to enable the Tenure Commission properly to perform its functions. Information so furnished shall be treated by the Tenure Commission as privileged and confidential.

(e)(1) No person may be appointed to the Tenure Commission unless such person —

(A) is a citizen of the United States;

(B) is a bona fide resident of the District and has maintained an actual place of abode in the District for at least ninety days immediately prior to appointment; and

(C) is not an officer or employee of the legislative branch or of an executive or military department or agency of the United States (listed in sections 101 and 102 of title 5 of the United States Code); and (except with respect to the person appointed or designated according to paragraph (3)(E)) is not an officer or employee of the judicial branch of the United States, or an officer or employee of the District government (including its judicial branch).

(2) Any vacancy on the Tenure Commission shall be filled in the same manner in which the original appointment was made. Any person so appointed to fill a vacancy occurring other than upon the expiration of a prior term shall serve only for the remainder of the unexpired term of such person’s predecessor.

(3) In addition to all other qualifications listed in this section, lawyer members of the Tenure Commission shall have the qualifications prescribed for persons appointed as judges of the District of Columbia courts. Members of the Tenure Commission shall be appointed as follows:

(A) One member shall be appointed by the President of the United States.

(B) Two members shall be appointed by the Board of Governors of the unified District of Columbia Bar, both of whom shall have been engaged in the practice of law in the District for at least five successive years preceding their appointment.

(C) Two members shall be appointed by the Mayor, one of whom shall not be a lawyer.

(D) One member shall be appointed by the Council, and shall not be a lawyer.

(E) One member shall be appointed by the chief judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, and such member shall be an active or retired Federal judge serving in the District.

No person may serve at the same time on both the District of Columbia Judicial Nomination Commission and on the District of Columbia Commission on Judicial Disabilities and Tenure.

(f) Members of the Tenure Commission shall serve without compensation for services rendered in connection with their official duties on the Commission.

(g) The Tenure Commission shall have the power to suspend, retire, or remove a judge of a District of Columbia court as provided in § 1-204.32 and to make recommendations regarding the appointment of senior judges of the District of Columbia courts as provided in § 11-1504.


(Dec. 24, 1973, 87 Stat. 792, Pub. L. 93-198, title IV, § 431; Oct. 13, 1977, 91 Stat. 1155, Pub. L. 95-131, § 3(a); Oct. 30, 1984, 98 Stat. 3142, Pub. L. 98-598, § 2(b); Oct. 28, 1986, 100 Stat. 3228, Pub. L. 99-573, § 4; June 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 713, Pub. L. 103-266, §§ 2(b)(1), 2(b)(2), 2(b)(3); Apr. 26, 1996, 110 Stat. 1321-91, Pub. L. 104-134, § 133(a).)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., Title 11, appx., § 431.

1973 Ed., Title 11, appx., § 431.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 11-908A.


§ 1–204.32. Removal, suspension, and involuntary retirement.

(a)(1) A judge of a District of Columbia court shall be removed from office upon the filing in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals by the Tenure Commission of an order of removal certifying the entry, in any court within the United States, of a final judgment of conviction of a crime which is punishable as a felony under Federal law or which would be a felony in the District.

(2) A judge of a District of Columbia court shall also be removed from office upon affirmance of an appeal from an order of removal filed in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals by the Tenure Commission (or upon expiration of the time within which such an appeal may be taken) after a determination by the Tenure Commission of —

(A) willful misconduct in office,

(B) willful and persistent failure to perform judicial duties, or

(C) any other conduct which is prejudicial to the administration of justice or which brings the judicial office into disrepute.

(b) A judge of a District of Columbia court shall be involuntarily retired from office when (1) the Tenure Commission determines that the judge suffers from a mental or physical disability (including habitual intemperance) which is or is likely to become permanent and which prevents, or seriously interferes with, the proper performance of judicial duties, and (2) the Tenure Commission files in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals an order of involuntary retirement and the order is affirmed on appeal or the time within which an appeal may be taken from the order has expired.

(c)(1) A judge of a District of Columbia court shall be suspended, without salary—

(A) upon—

(i) proof of conviction of a crime referred to in subsection (a)(1) which has not become final, or

(ii) the filing of an order of removal under subsection (a)(2) which has not become final; and

(B) upon the filing by the Tenure Commission of an order of suspension in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.

Suspension under this paragraph shall continue until termination of all appeals. If the conviction is reversed or the order of removal is set aside, the judge shall be reinstated and shall recover any salary and all other rights and privileges of office.

(2) A judge of a District of Columbia court shall be suspended from all judicial duties, with such retirement salary as the judge may be entitled, upon the filing by the Tenure Commission of an order of involuntary retirement under subsection (b) in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. Suspension shall continue until termination of all appeals. If the order of involuntary retirement is set aside, the judge shall be reinstated and shall recover judicial salary less any retirement salary received and shall be entitled to all the rights and privileges of office.

(3) A judge of a District of Columbia court shall be suspended from all or part of the judge’s judicial duties, with salary, if the Tenure Commission, upon concurrence of five members, (A) orders a hearing for the removal or retirement of the judge pursuant to this part and determines that such suspension is in the interest of the administration of justice, and (B) files an order of suspension in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. The suspension shall terminate as specified in the order (which may be modified, as appropriate, by the Tenure Commission) but in no event later than the termination of all appeals.


(Dec. 24, 1973, 87 Stat. 794, Pub. L. 93-198, title IV, § 432; June 13, 1994, Pub. L. 103-266, §§ 2(b)(4), (5), 108 Stat. 713.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., Title 11, appx., § 432.

1973 Ed., Title 11, appx., § 432.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 1-204.31.


§ 1–204.33. Nomination and appointment of judges.

(a) Except as provided in § 1-204.34(d)(1), the President shall nominate, from the list of persons recommended by the District of Columbia Judicial Nomination Commission established under § 1-204.34, and, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, appoint all judges of the District of Columbia courts.

(b) No person may be nominated or appointed a judge of a District of Columbia court unless the person —

(1) is a citizen of the United States;

(2) is an active member of the unified District of Columbia Bar and has been engaged in the active practice of law in the District for the five years immediately preceding the nomination or for such five years has been on the faculty of a law school in the District, or has been employed as a lawyer by the United States or the District of Columbia government;

(3) is a bona fide resident of the District of Columbia and has maintained an actual place of abode in the District for at least ninety days immediately prior to the nomination, and shall retain such residency while serving as such judge, except judges appointed prior to the effective date of this part who retain residency as required by § 11-1501(a) shall not be required to be residents of the District to be eligible for reappointment or to serve any term to which reappointed;

(4) is recommended to the President, for such nomination and appointment, by the District of Columbia Judicial Nomination Commission; and

(5) has not served, within a period of two years prior to the nomination, as a member of the Tenure Commission or of the District of Columbia Judicial Nomination Commission.

(c) Not less than six months prior to the expiration of the judge’s term of office, any judge of the District of Columbia courts may file with the Tenure Commission a declaration of candidacy for reappointment. If a declaration is not so filed by any judge, a vacancy shall result from the expiration of the term of office and shall be filled by appointment as provided in subsections (a) and (b) of this section. If a declaration is so filed, the Tenure Commission shall, not less than sixty days prior to the expiration of the declaring candidate’s term of office, prepare and submit to the President a written evaluation of the declaring candidate’s performance during the present term of office and the candidate’s fitness for reappointment to another term. If the Tenure Commission determines the declaring candidate to be well qualified for reappointment to another term, then the term of such declaring candidate shall be automatically extended for another full term, subject to mandatory retirement, suspension, or removal. If the Tenure Commission determines the declaring candidate to be qualified for reappointment to another term, then the President may nominate such candidate, in which case the President shall submit to the Senate for advice and consent the renomination of the declaring candidate as judge. If the President determines not to so nominate such declaring candidate, the President shall nominate another candidate for such position only in accordance with the provisions of subsections (a) and (b) of this section. If the Tenure Commission determines the declaring candidate to be unqualified for reappointment to another term, then the President shall not submit to the Senate for advice and consent the renomination of the declaring candidate as judge and such judge shall not be eligible for reappointment or appointment as a judge of a District of Columbia court.


(Dec. 24, 1973, 87 Stat. 795, Pub. L. 93-198, title IV, § 433; Oct. 28, 1986, 100 Stat. 3228, Pub. L. 99-573, §§ 12, 13; June 13, 1994, Pub. L. 103-266, §§ 2(b)(6), 2(b)(7), 2(b)(8), 108 Stat. 713; Sept. 9, 1996, 110 Stat. 2369, Pub. L. 104-194, § 131(b); Apr. 26, 1996, 110 Stat. 1321-92, Pub. L. 104-134, § 133(b).)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., Title 11, appx., § 433.

1973 Ed., Title 11, appx., § 433.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 1-204.31, § 1-204.34, and § 11-908A.

Editor's Notes

Section 133(b) of Public Law 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321 210, amended (b)(5) to read as follows: “(5) Members of the commission shall serve without compensation for services rendered in connection with their official duties on the Commission.”. Section 131(b) of Public Law 104-194, 110 Stat. 2369, repealed § 133(b) of Pub. L. 104-134 and provided that the provision of law amended by such section is hereby restored as if such section had not been enacted into law.


§ 1–204.34. District of Columbia Judicial Nomination Commission.

(a) There is established for the District of Columbia the District of Columbia Judicial Nomination Commission (hereafter in this section referred to as the “Commission”). The Commission shall consist of seven members selected in accordance with the provisions of subsection (b). Such members shall serve for terms of six years, except that the member selected in accordance with subsection (b)(4)(A) shall serve for five years; of the members first selected in accordance with subsection (b)(4)(B), one member shall serve for three years and one member shall serve for six years; of the members first selected in accordance with subsection (b)(4)(C), one member shall serve for a term of three years and one member shall serve for five years; the member first selected in accordance with subsection (b)(4)(D) shall serve for six years; and the member first appointed in accordance with subsection (b)(4)(E) shall serve for six years. In making the respective first appointments according to subsections (b)(4)(B) and (b)(4)(C), the Mayor and the Board of Governors of the unified District of Columbia Bar shall designate, at the time of such appointments, which member shall serve for the shorter term and which member shall serve for the longer term.

(b)(1) No person may be appointed to the Commission unless the person —

(A) is a citizen of the United States;

(B) is a bona fide resident of the District and has maintained an actual place of abode in the District for at least 90 days immediately prior to appointment; and

(C) is not a member, officer, or employee of the legislative branch or of an executive or military department or agency of the United States (listed in sections 101 and 102 of title 5 of the United States Code); and (except with respect to the person appointed or designated according to paragraph (4)(E)) is not an officer or employee of the judicial branch of the United States, or an officer or employee of the District government (including its judicial branch).

(2) Any vacancy on the Commission shall be filled in the same manner in which the original appointment was made. Any person so appointed to fill a vacancy occurring other than upon the expiration of a prior term shall serve only for the remainder of the unexpired term of such person’s predecessor.

(3) It shall be the function of the Commission to submit nominees for appointment to positions as judges of the District of Columbia courts in accordance with § 1-204.33.

(4) In addition to all other qualifications listed in this section, lawyer members of the Commission shall have the qualifications prescribed for persons appointed as judges for the District of Columbia courts. Members of the Commission shall be appointed as follows:

(A) One member shall be appointed by the President of the United States.

(B) Two members shall be appointed by the Board of Governors of the unified District of Columbia Bar, both of whom shall have been engaged in the practice of law in the District for at least five successive years preceding their appointment.

(C) Two members shall be appointed by the Mayor, one of whom shall not be a lawyer.

(D) One member shall be appointed by the Council, and shall not be a lawyer.

(E) One member shall be appointed by the chief judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, and such member shall be an active or retired Federal judge serving in the District.

(5) Members of the Commission shall serve without compensation for services rendered in connection with their official duties on the Commission.

(c)(1) The Commission shall act only at meetings called by the Chairman or a majority of the Commission held after notice has been given of such meeting to all Commission members. Meetings of the Commission may be closed to the public. Section 1-207.42 shall not apply to meetings of the Commission.

(2) The Commission shall choose annually, from among its members, a Chairman, and such other officers as it may deem necessary. The Commission may adopt such rules of procedures not inconsistent with this chapter as may be necessary to govern the business of the Commission.

(3) The District government shall furnish to the Commission, upon the request of the Commission, such records, information, services, and such other assistance and facilities as may be necessary to enable the Commission properly to perform its function. Information, records, and other materials furnished to or developed by the Commission in the performance of its duties under this section shall be privileged and confidential. Section 552 of title 5, United States Code (known as the Freedom of Information Act), shall not apply to any such materials.

(d)(1) In the event of a vacancy in any position of the judge of a District of Columbia court, the Commission shall, within sixty days following the occurrence of such vacancy, submit to the President, for possible nomination and appointment, a list of three persons for each vacancy. If more than one vacancy exists at one given time, the Commission must submit lists in which no person is named more than once and the President may select more than one nominee from one list. Whenever a vacancy will occur by reason of the expiration of such judge’s term of office, the Commission’s list of nominees shall be submitted to the President not less than sixty days prior to the occurrence of such vacancy. In the event the President fails to nominate, for Senate confirmation, one of the persons on the list submitted to the President under this section within sixty days after receiving such list, the Commission shall nominate, and with the advice and consent of the Senate, appoint one of those persons to fill the vacancy for which such list was originally submitted to the President.

(2) In the event any person recommended by the Commission to the President requests that the recommendation be withdrawn, dies, or in any other way becomes disqualified to serve as a judge of the District of Columbia courts, the Commission shall promptly recommend to the President one person to replace the person originally recommended.

(3) In no instance shall the Commission recommend any person, who in the event of timely nomination following a recommendation by the Commission, does not meet, upon such nomination, the qualifications specified in § 1-204.33.

(4) Upon submission to the President, the name of any individual recommended under this subsection shall be made public by the Judicial Nomination Commission.


(Dec. 24, 1973, 87 Stat. 796, Pub. L. 93-198, title IV, § 434; Oct. 13, 1977, 91 Stat. 1155, Pub. L. 95-131, § 3(b); Oct. 28, 1986, 100 Stat. 3228, Pub. L. 99-573, §§ 8-10, 15; June 13, 1994, Pub. L. 103-266, §§ 2(b)(9), 2(b)(10), 108 Stat. 713; Sept. 9, 1996, 110 Stat. 2369, Pub. L. 104-194, § 131(a).)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., Title 11, appx., § 434.

1973 Ed., Title 11, appx., § 434.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 1-204.31 and § 1-204.33.

Temporary Legislation

Section 2 of D.C. Law 18-224 amended section 202 of D.C. Law 18-160 to read as follows: “Sec. 202. Applicability. “Section 201 shall apply upon its ratification by a majority of the registered qualified electors of the District of Columbia voting in a referendum held for such purpose and a 35-day period of Congressional review as provided in section 303 of the District of Columbia Home Rule Act, approved December 24, 1973 (87 Stat. 784; D.C. Official Code § 1-203.03), and publication in the District of Columbia Register.”.

Section 5(b) of D.C. Law 18-224 provided that the act shall expire after 225 days of its having taken effect.

Editor's Notes

Time limit for submission of lists: Section 3 of Public Law 98-235 provided that notwithstanding the time limitations of subsection (d)(1) of this section, the District of Columbia Judicial Nomination Commission shall submit lists for initial nominations and appointments to judicial positions created under the act within 90 days after the date of enactment of the act. Approved March 19, 1984.